Friday, February 8, 2013

All you need...

Yesterday we walked through our quick hitters and OB sets because we have three players now who are out of position, having to learn a new spot due to our injury bug.  Hopefully we'll get one player back in the lineup in ten days, since we have only one game next week (on Saturday), giving us some breathing room.  But that doesn't help us tomorrow as we head out on the road to the Quad Cities of western Illinois for our rematch with Augustana.

Of course it is not at all unusual for a team to suffer injuries.  Not even surprising.  I remember in 2007-08 when I had one of my best teams at ONU (we tied the WBB college scoring record that year at 104.1 ppg), and we went through the entire season without one player missing a game due to injury.  I thought at the time, "Hmm... now that's the way it's supposed to be!"  But in retrospect, my thought should have been, "Wow, were we ever lucky!"  When I coached high school basketball in Texas, we had a saying, "All that team needs is a bus driver."  With enough talent--and enough luck--that's all you need some years:  not a brilliant coach, not a trainer, not an academic counselor... just a bus driver. 

I know from following the fortunes of the Grinnell teams over the years that Coach Arseneault has been hard hit by injuries to key players at times.  This year is no exception, with Jack Taylor going down last month with a broken wrist, just weeks after ringing up 138 points.  Now that's a key loss!

The interesting thing, however, is that Grinnell didn't lose a beat.  The reason, I think, is that his offense is role-oriented, not position-oriented.  What do I mean by that?  I mean that Coach A's players are trained to fill roles on offense (preferred shooter, ball-handler, screener) and they have a minimum of set plays, so he can insert almost any combination of players without them having to retool or learn a new "position."

On the other hand, at NCC we have 5 baseline OB plays, 3 sideline plays, and 5 quick-hittters.  That reflects my bias towards using set plays, which still infects my coaching philosophy even after all these years.  Unfortunately this means that each time a player moves to a new position in the lineup, she must remember (or learn) what to do at that new spot.  In these situations, "less is more" takes on an added dimension; the less a player has to learn (position-wise), the less there is to screw up. 

And the less your team has to screw up, the less likely they'll need anything but a bus driver.

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